A much awaited AutoGP win for Van der Drift

With his Race 2 success in Marrakech, Chris van der Drift ended a 21-month-long streak without a win. A widely recognized talent, the kiwi driver had to face tough times since his huge Brands Hatch crash in 2010 and this also explains why his win in Marrakech was hailed by big smiles throughout the whole Auto GP paddock, with everybody seeing it as a deserved reward after a very unlucky period.“It feels the same for me - Chris said - it was really a much awaited moment. I knew that I always had the speed to do it, but when you’re not racing regularly you don’t have many chances to show that and even when it happens you’re a bit ‘rusty’, so you don’t get results that in a normal situation would have been easily within your reach. This is why getting this chance to compete in Auto GP with Manor MP Motorsport was so important for me, I can’t thank them enough for that”.The Brands Hatch crash in 2010 forced you to a lengthy stop in order to recover from the injuries. How much of a setback has it been for your career?“A big one. The broken bones, bumps and bruises were just one bad side of it. The other one is that it took away momentum from my career, as the timing was also really bad. I had just decided to go ahead without a manager when the crash came. So I had to restart everything on my own, and it was an hard task. Finding a drive for the whole 2011 season wasn’t possible, and racing when you don’t know if you will still have a seat the following weekend is never easy”.Let’s focus on the present: your fight with Sirotkin in Race 2 was amazing, you couldn’t see each other but both had to push as hard as possible to make the strategy work. How does winning such a race feels?“Winning after such a close fight always feels great. It wasn’t an easy race, especially the first part: I had a late-pit-stop strategy and so I knew that I had to watch after my tyres. That’s why in the first few laps I was conservative, maybe even a bit too much. Anyway at some point I realized that if I wanted to win the race I couldn’t wait anymore, and that the soft compound seemed very consistent. So I started pushing as hard as I could, and the laptimes got better and better. I think that the key moments were my laps when Sirotkin pitted and then my own in and out laps. There’s where I made the gap”.From the start of the season you already won 25.000 euros of Prize Money, that’s also a good way of saying thanks to your team…“Manor MP Motorsport are putting a lot of trust in me, so having the chance to give them something in return is really welcome. They have a very young driver on one car, so they are relying on my experience to get a feedback on setup and development work, and I’m doing my best so that we can improve together. I have to say that working with them is a real pleasure, there’s always a good mood inside the team, everybody is very positive.Also with Daniel, my team-mate, we get along really well with each other. I’m doing a bit of coaching with him and I have to say that he has a huge potential for such a young age. Compared to 2011 he already improved a lot, he’s a completely different driver and there’s much more to come”.Next race will be in Hungaroring, a track you know very well. What do you expect?“I expect a very good weekend. In Marrakech we managed a big step forward with the base setup of the car, something that we should be able to carry to Budapest even if the circuits are very different. I like the track, there is a bit of everything, slow and quick corners, it’s a very technical layout. Basically you are going from corner to corner, so you will go nowhere if the car isn’t in good shape. At the same time, the driver must also be very focused because losing a couple of tenths here and there is very easy. It’s a track where everything must be perfect or nearly so to get a podium result, and I’m confident that we can achieve that”.